Back with a brand new article type for the blog, I will be interviewing a fellow blogger and vintage watch enthusiast Melvin Hollenberg. Melvin is the founder and owner of WahaWatches and is building a community that provides knowledgeable articles about owning, maintaining and collecting vintage watches.
But first on with the interview.
How did you begin collecting watches, was there a defining moment?
I’m not sure if I really collect watches, to be honest. I do have a couple watches that I like (a lot) but I don’t have a large collection. The technological aspect, the craftsmanship of the movements and how to keep those vintage watches running and preserved for future generations fascinates me much more.
It started when I inherited my late grandfather’s watch. I remember listening to it as a child. I always found it a very reassuring, safe and familiar sound. The watch (a Moritz Ancre) was in a bad shape, though. A couple watchmakers told me that the watch wasn’t really worth that much and I shouldn’t spend that much money on it to restore it. In hindsight, that’s ludicrous of course because how can you put a price on an heirloom. Anyway, I decided to do it more or less myself. Afterwards, it’s even more special than when you had someone else do it. That’s how this fascination began.
How is your collection currently made up?
After I inherited my grandfather’s watch my parents bought me my first “serious” watch as a present, a 1943 Omega 30T2. I have a Longines 12.68Z dress watch, a Roamer dress watch and a Helvetia bumper automatic in stainless. I also have 3 chronographs, 2 Pontiac and 1 Lemania 105. For casual wear, I have a Tissot PR516 GL in stainless with the blue dial and a new Citizen Promaster Ecodrive watch.
Your passion is vintage watches but do any contemporary modern watches hold the same interest as your vintage counterparts?
I wear the Citizen Promaster because it’s so very easy to pick it up and wear it. It’s very rugged, waterproof and it’s always running on time.
I don’t find new watches interesting though. I’m sure there are still some very beautiful and stylish watches being made today. But I want a watch with a (visible) history and a story behind it. There is no interesting history behind something that was only made 3 months ago by a machine.
What watch are you currently wearing the most?
Currently, I’m wearing the Helvetia bumper the most. Past summer I wore the Tissot a lot because it’s more casual and it’s cooler on the skin with a stainless bracelet. I also wore the Citizen a lot because it’s waterproof and it has a nice canvas strap that’s also comfortable in the summer.
What is your grail watch?
A stainless 40s Longines chronograph with a 13ZN movement.
What is the next watch purchase you are planning to make?
I would still like to own a vintage diver watch and/or a watch with a moon phase.
Some vintage divers that I find interesting are the Zodiac Seawolf, the Bulova Snorkel and several Aquastar models.
Watches with a moon phase are generally very expensive. Therefore, I’d have to look for something like a Zodiac, Pierce or Movado with a Venus or a Felsa movement. It’s still a chronograph with a moon phase but they are not that big on the radar yet.
If you started collecting today, what would you do differently?
I don’t think that I would do much differently. I like my collection now and how it came to be. Perhaps I would focus more on what I personally like, in the beginning. I believe I was too focused on what the community liked and what pieces were labelled desirable.
But I didn’t waste too much money or made terrible deals. Yes, I made some mistakes but you learn from them. You’ll be more experienced and prepared next time.
Do you have any tips for vintage watch collectors who are just starting?
Like everybody, I started to collect all over the place. I bought everything that I could find and fitted within the budget.
It makes sense to have a sort of plan behind it. Find out what you like, a certain brand, a certain style, in-house movements whatever. Try to stick to your plan and become an expert in the area that you find interesting. This way, you’ll get to know other people that have the same interest. You’ll also be able to weed out the bad deals and waste less money on misfits. Finally, this allows you to be more focused on your “area” because the watch market can be very distracting.
If you had to pass on one watch out of your collection to the next generation what watch would it be and why?
The Moritz Ancre. Because I inherited it myself and I think it would be very special to pass it on myself.
If you would like to read the interview I have done with WahaWatches you can read it here: An interview with Blake Drayson.